The Four Rings seem to be looking to dominate the world’s top open-wheel racing with a return to F1 in 2016, a space it has not occupied since before World War II. According to AutoExpress, insiders at Audi say it is set to abandon both Germany’s Touring Car Championship, and the sacred 24 Hours of Le Mans, which the team has dominated in recent years.. It will bow to sister company Porsche and give it the limelight in Le Mans.
Insiders also say it will combine its budgets from both of these racing programs, and add a hefty Red Bull sponsorship to make its mark in F1 once again. Audi was close to entering F1 in 2013, with development of a new turbocharged four-cylinder to coincide with F1’s turn to a turbo four cylinder formula. With the F1’s decision to go with a turbocharged V6 platform instead, further evidence Audi is poised to return this time is its development of a 1.6-liter V6 turbocharged motor.
In addition, further churning the rumor mill is the hiring of former Ferrari Formula One team principle Stefano Domenicali. Domenicali has no experience with German touring car or Le Mans, and sources are insistent the only reason he would be brought onboard is to help rebuild Audi’s F1 presence in 2016. Heck, the man can’t even speak German.
Fernando Alonso seems to be a potential pick-up for Audi, who is leaving Ferrari this year and has won two world champions. The good news is the return of Audi to F1 may spark a rivalry that has lied dormant for many years: Mercedes-Benz. Because who doesn’t love a good rivalry reignited? With Audi leaving Le Mans, it would be an end of an era at La Sarthe. It has won the round-the-clock classic 13 times since 2000 and was beginning to threaten Porsche’s record of 16 wins.